|Fast Break: Celtics escape, but continue to progress||03.04.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
With each passing day, the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson begins to look a little better from the Celtics‘ perspective. Word came down today that Robinson had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will be out 4-6 weeks. Considering the fact that the Celtics traded four players who are injured (including Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden) and replaced them with healthy players, that’s already a net positive.
But what about the on-court results? New center Nenad Krstic has already shown his value as an offensive threat and against the Warriors on Friday night, Jeff Green had his coming out party. Green, who had scored just 18 points in his first three games, erupted for 13 in the first half and finished with 21 points in 28 minutes.
Despite some anxious moments at the end, the Celtics have now won four games in a row after their 107-103 win (recap) and while they would certainly like to close games out better, they’ll gladly take the wins while sorting things out.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ray Allen should take more days off: The veteran sharpshooter took Thursday off from practice as a precaution. Doc Rivers said that Allen told him his legs were feeling a little sore so Rivers told him to hit some golf balls. Allen showed up for Friday’s game wearing a compression sleeve on his right leg, but any concerns soon evaporated as he made his first seven shots and finished 9-for-13 with 27 points.
A glimpse of what Green can do: The problem for the Celtics and their new forward is simply one of opportunity. Beyond playing the minutes behind Paul Pierce, what else can they do with him? That’s a question Rivers raised Thursday at practice and really, there isn’t a good answer.
But with Glen Davis out for a few days with a strained knee, Rivers used Green with the starters and it resulted in unreal production. Of all the things Green provides, the ability to get out on the break with Rajon Rondo is the most appealing and the two connected for a series of highlight-worthy plays. Unlocking Green’s potential is one of the priorities of the last six weeks and Friday night was a positive step.
Paul Pierce’s quiet excellence: Just another 27-point, seven-rebound night for Pierce, who is the glue that holds everything together.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Troy Murphy will need some time: Murphy has now played 26 minutes and missed all seven shots that he’s attempted. Rivers said he wanted to run him until he dropped and he’ll have to keep giving him minutes while he figures things out on the fly.
Von Wafer strains his right calf: It never ends for the Celtics. After dropping seven points in just six minutes, Von Wafer limped off the court with what the team called a strained right calf. There was no immediate update on how long Wafer will be out, but he did not return to the game. That’s a tough blow for Wafer, who has played well in limited opportunities this season.
Second half fades: It happened late in the third quarter against the Suns, but this time the culprits were the starters as they allowed the Warriors to almost erase a huge lead late in the game. Monta Ellis scored 41 points, tying the mark set by Kobe Bryant for most against the Celtics this season. The Celtics escaped, but this late-game trend needs to stop.
|Irish Coffee: What to expect from Celtics’ buyouts||03.03.11 at 10:40 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
So, can Murphy and Pavlovic help the C’s win enough games to hold off the Heat or Bulls for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed — and then contribute to victories as the team chases Banner No. 18?
Throughout the new Big Three era, the Celtics have made similar buyout acquisitions in addition to luring P.J. Brown out of retirement before the 2008 title run. Here’s what they gave you over the past three seasons …
- Sam Cassell averaged 7.6 points, 2.1 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 17.6 minutes during 17 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2008. He then averaged 4.5 points, 1.2 assists and 0.7 rebounds in 12.6 minutes over 21 playoff games. Cassell scored in double figures five times in the regular season and another four in the postseason — and the Celtics won all nine games.
- P.J. Brown averaged 2.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 11.6 minutes during 18 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2008. He then averaged 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 13.6 minutes over 25 playoff games. Brown scored in double figures just once — but it came in a 97-92 win over the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
- Mikki Moore averaged 4.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19.0 minutes during 24 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2009. He then averaged 1.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 6.6 minutes over 10 playoff games. Moore reached double figures twice in the regular season — a win over the Thunder and a blowout loss to the Cavaliers.
- Stephon Marbury averaged 3.8 points, 3.3 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 18.0 minutes during 23 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2009. He then averaged 3.7 points, 1.8 assists and 0.9 rebounds in 11.9 minutes over 14 playoff games. Marbury scored in double figures once in the regular season and twice in the playoffs — all victories.
- Michael Finley averaged 5.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 15.0 minutes during 21 regular-season games for the Celtics in 2010. He then averaged 0.8 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists in 6.0 minutes over 18 playoff games. The C’s finished 2-1 in the regular season when Finley reached double figures — the lone defeat coming in a blowout loss to the Grizzlies.
|Kendrick Perkins signs extension with Oklahoma City||03.01.11 at 11:30 am ET|
Kendrick Perkins hasn’t even played a game yet for his new team in Oklahoma City, but he has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Thunder. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski has the total value of the deal worth $34.8 million.
That’s a good deal for Perkins and it also helps explain why the Celtics would have made him available at the trade deadline. Earlier this winter, they offered him a four–year extension worth about $23 million. That was the most the Celtics could have offered him under the current collective bargaining agreement. Perkins turned it down believing he could get more as unrestricted free agent.
“We offered him all that we could offer him,” team president Danny Ainge said in an interview with WEEI. “He wasn’t really interested in doing a contract extension, which I understand. He wanted to test the market. Last time he didn’t test the market and this time he wanted to see what his value was and that was a concern.”
But the Thunder had more room to maneuver under the cap, as detailed by Sham Sports (scroll down to the bottom), and they used that extra space to up the offer for Perkins. It’s unclear how high the Celtics would have gone in an offer for Perkins had he reached unrestricted free agency, but it also seems unlikely they would have gone that far with him.
In the end, this deal works out well for the Celtics. Perkins stays out of the Eastern Conference and as an added bonus goes to a team that is now better-equipped to battle the Lakers. It also works out well for Perkins who outproduced his current contract and gets paid before the looming summer labor uncertainty. The Celtics got almost eight years out of the 27th pick in the draft and landed Jeff Green in the process.
|Stephen A. Smith on D&C: ‘I still believe that Rasheed Wallace is going to come back’||02.28.11 at 10:38 am ET|
Veteran columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and NBA news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Smith made news recently by speculating that Rasheed Wallace would end his retirement and return to the Celtics. Smith explained that Wallace indicated last June ‘ when the player talked about his retirement ‘ that he would consider returning after the trade deadline this season.
“He was alluding [in June] to coming back once the trading deadline expired if the Celtics needed him, that he would think about it,” Smith said. “And throughout this year, he had been saying one day, he wants to come back, the other day, he doesn’t want to come back. ‘¦ He was going back and forth throughout the year. One day he wants to come back, another day he doesn’t want to come back. One minute he’s thinking about going to Orlando, the next minute he misses all the boys he was with in Boston last year.
“So, I simply said I think he’s going to end up coming back to Boston, because I believe that Boston is going to be the team that fights the Lakers for the world championship, and I believe that Doc Rivers is the ultimate motivator. And I think if you have an opportunity to play for Doc Rivers for a couple of months, that’s not something that you’re going to turn down. I still believe that. I still believe that Rasheed Wallace is going to come back.”
Smith called the trade of Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder “a devasating blow” to Boston, but he remains convinced that the Celtics will beat the Heat and win the Eastern Conference en route to an NBA title. Smith said he can’t pick a team that starts Erick Dampier at center, and that the Celtics can slow the games down, taking away the Heat’s uptempo style.
“If [the Celtics] play the kind of defense they always play, I can’t see how the Miami Heat can beat them in a seven-game series,” he said.
Added Smith: “I believe in Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal, and I think somehow, someway, specifically Shaquille O’Neal can offset the loss of Kendrick Perkins. And I think that will be enough to get you back to the NBA finals, where I believe they will beat the Los Angeles Lakers.”
The Perkins trade hurts the Celtics more emotionally than physically, Smith explained. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the Boston Celtics made the right move for the long term,” he said. “But short term, I think it’s a devastating blow. Kendrick Perkins is a big body, a wide body, he’s very, very physical. And I’m one of those people who firmly believes that if Kendrick Perkins hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 6 of the NBA finals that the Boston Celtics would be the reigning defending world champions right now. I think they would have beaten the Lakers in Game 7.
|Doc Rivers hopes Jeff Green can be the new James Posey||02.25.11 at 7:14 pm ET|
Doc Rivers told reporters in Denver that he envisioned newly acquired guard/forward Jeff Green as being a player with the skill set to replicate the contributions made by James Posey in the team’s 2007-08 NBA title run. The Celtics coach suggested that the 24-year-old, whom Boston netted along with Nenad Krstic in exchange for center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson, offered the ability to spread the floor with offensive weapons.
“We’ve been trying to get that lineup since Posey left. And I think people forget how many times we did that in the playoffs, which was every fourth quarter for the most part,” Rivers told reporters. “We haven’t been able to duplicate that.”
As for the decision to part with Perkins, who was also a part of that 2007-08 championship team, Rivers said that the performance of Shaquille O’Neal would be critical to the way in which the deal is assessed. O’Neal has not played since Feb. 1, but Rivers said that the 38-year-old is expected to return in good health.
“We need to get Shaq healthy. Shaq will be healthy. But if Shaq plays great, then this deal was obviously really, really good for us,” Rivers said. “And that’s on Shaq. Getting Shaq in great shape, getting him ready, getting him healthy is really going to be important for us in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, though much of the attention on the locker room dynamics of the deal has fallen on the departure of Perkins from Boston, Green’s exit from Oklahoma City was being treated with comparable gravitas. About 12 minutes into his discussion of the deal with reporters at a press conference, Thunder GM Jeff Presti choked up when he discussed Green’s departure. Read the rest of this entry »
Sports Illustrated senior writer Ian Thomsen joined the midday show Friday with guest hosts John Rooke and Kirk Minihane to talk about the Celtics‘ moves this week, mainly the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
Thomsen said the Celtics forged an identity this season as a big physical team, following their NBA finals loss to the Lakers last June. Now, the identity has changed.
“First of all, I was just wondering who the Celtics are now?” Thomsen said of his initial reaction to the trade. “Before they signed [Shaquille O'Neal] last summer, I was wondering who they were. Because they were outrebounded in the finals, the Lakers front line looked too big for them, even when Perkins was playing. But then when they got Shaq, and you thought about Shaq and Perkins as the front line, now you thought that they were going to have an edge to them, they were going to be able to play down low, they’d always have a big man in there, for 48 minutes, potentially.
“And now again, I’m just not sure who they are now, what the edge is. There are things that they can no longer take for granted: that they can guard Dwight Howard one on one, that they’re going to throw a lot of size at the Lakers ‘ like a big offensive line that creates room for [Rajon] Rondo and all the other guys.
“So, it’s just now going to be interesting to see what’s going to be the new identity of the team. Because no matter what they do, if they get Troy Murphy or anybody else, it won’t be able to replicate what they had in Perkins. And Shaq just won’t be able to give them enough minutes, even if he’s healthy ‘ 25, 28, 30 minutes, maybe.”
Looking at matchups against the C’s main competition, such as LeBron James‘ Heat, Thomsen said you can evaluate it a couple of ways.
“It’s like a chicken-or-egg thing,” he said. “Do you respond to matchups of other teams or do you create matchups of your own that they can’t deal with? So now, against Miami, was one reason Boston had an edge over Miami this year because of guys like Kendrick Perkins and the physical edge that they clearly have over Miami? So, you can say, OK, you don’t need to worry about Miami’s big men, so you can afford to get rid of Kendrick Perkins. But in letting go of him, are you letting go of your inherent advantage over them. And now are you sort of playing their game as opposed to making them play your game. They’re less of an imposing team without Perkins. They’re playing more to Miami’s style.
“On the other hand, Jeff Green is huge against LeBron. Because the Celtics knew they couldn’t win without a real backup 3 to help [Paul] Pierce against LeBron, to help against Kobe [Bryant], some of these other big guys on the wings. And now they have that. Jeff Green is going to come off the bench, and LeBron is going to know that for the 43 or 44 minutes he’s playing every playoff game this spring, he’s going to have somebody decent guarding him.”
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge discusses Celtics trades||at 11:58 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Once the news came down that the Celtics had traded Kendrick Perkins just before the deadline on Thursday, the instant reaction for most Celtics fans probably went something like this: “Wait, what? I’m sorry, WHAT?!?! What is Danny Ainge thinking?”
When they heard the Celtics president shipped Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second-round pick, and then sent Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for cash, most fans (at least the ones on Twitter) seemed to think Ainge had lost his scruples.
He didn’t. There’s proof: The full transcription of his interview with John Ryder and Paul Flannery on the Planet Mikey show Thursday night …
WHY MAKE THE PERKINS TRADE?
“We think it upgrades our team, ultimately, is the reason. You always have to give up something of value to get something of value in return. We feel that this will help our team this year and help us in the future as well.”
ARE THERE CONCERNS ABOUT PERKINS HEALTH?
“Kendrick has had some history of injuries, but he’s recovering. Nobody works harder to recover on their injury than Kendrick, and I think that Kendrick will be fine long-term. …
“Kendrick came back, and he looked good. He worked really hard to get back sooner than we even thought. He’s a great young man, but at the same time we feel like we have a lot of centers, and we have great confidence [Shaquille O'Neal] and Jermaine [O'Neal] will be healthy. And [Nenad] Krstic is probably more healthy than all of those guys at this stage.”
HOW DID THE DEAL DEVELOP?
“It’s something that we’ve discussed periodically. I have conversations throughout the year with a lot of teams, and we take some serious and throw some by the wayside. I wanted to see how our team was playing, and our team was playing great in the absence of Kendrick throughout the season. We beat Miami twice and Chicago and LA and so forth.”
WHAT DOES JEFF GREEN BRING TO THE TABLE?